Archive for the ‘CMDA’ Category

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Summer Roundup

July 19, 2013

Summer Ministry

Since many of our students are unavailable during June and July, these are good months for getting to areas we ordinarily don’t have much time for, such as support-raising and ‘big picture’ thinking.  We’ve found this is critical to having a successful year of student ministry.

At the same time, God is still giving us many wonderful, personal interactions.  To take one example, we have continued summer bible study dinners in our home, with one more to go.  The Book of Malachi has been challenging us deeply on what it means not only to believe the ‘right’ things, but also to live them out.

God has also continued to bless our community development efforts near Temple.  This past semester, with some assistance from other community leaders and I, students from our Christian fellowship at Temple taught 12 science lessons for two seventh-grade classes at a local public school.  Recent budgetary cuts have left the school without any certified science teachers, so their efforts were especially welcome.  In addition to blessing the children, we are praying that some graduate with a vision for serving Christ in underserved, urban environments and believe this is already happening.  This is just a small part of what’s happening in this arena, so stay tuned!

Loose Ends

If you’re one of our donors, now you can access your giving history, print donation receipts and even update your profile history (such as current address).  Here’s how.  (Note: our Donor Tools website is cmdaphiladelphia.donortools.com).

Some of you have requested not to receive general mailings from CMDA, our parent ministry. You may contact Maggie Combs (maggie dot combs at cmda dot org) and simply ask to opt out.

We’ve also recently created a Facebook page and website for our CMDA Philadelphia ministry. Check them out and let us know what you think!

As August draws near, we’re looking forward to meeting new students and connecting with those who return.  Thank you for your prayers and gifts that make it all possible!

Bryan & Sharon

Please join us in lifting up the following prayers and praises:

  • Praise God for a solid end to our fiscal year and for donors who support us well.
  • Praise God for excellent summer bible studies in the Book of Malachi, and, pray for specific, lasting fruit in student’s lives.  One participant shared, for example, that God has been showing him how serious his sin is and how deeply he is in need of everyday rescue.
  • Pray for our student leaders to stay closely connected to Christ over the summer, and, to continue planning and praying for the fall.
  • Pray for God to be working in the lives of incoming first-year students so that they are receptive to our ministry.
  • Pray for wisdom as various leaders, students and I try to discern next steps in reaching out to the community near Temple.  There are many moving pieces and it’s clear this mission cannot be accomplished in our own strength.
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Looking Back, Moving Forward

June 18, 2013
Jon, one of our students turned resident, joins us virtually from CA!

Jon, one of our students turned resident, joins us virtually from CA!

Summer is here!  Our first-year students have finished with their exams, second-year students are either studying for ‘boards’ (comprehensive exams necessary to continue with third-year) or starting rotations, and, things are relatively quiet here.  Sort of like the shore at the end of the season.

But not quite.  There’s still plenty to do, like:

  • Give thanks for another great year of student ministry!  This year, in addition to supporting our 5 major campuses, we also started connecting with, and supporting, several new ones: Arcadia (formerly Beaver), Penn Dental, Temple Dental, and, Temple Podiatry.  We enjoyed discipling/mentoring many individual students, developing leaders and helping them reach their campuses, hosting students in our home for bible study brunches, and, provide relational counseling for couples.
  • Give thanks that our ministry ‘council’ (healthcare providers who work alongside me in ministry, also providing encouragement and accountability) doubled from 3 to 6.  This has been such an incredible encouragement and greatly increased what we’re able to do.
  • Hire a part-time ministry assistant.  God’s continued blessing has led to greater administrative and relational ministry needs, especially with our female students.  We hope to hire an assistant by August when our academic year begins.
  • Raise support.  Along with other increased costs, hiring a ministry assistant will require us to raise additional funds.
  • Hanging out at one of our brunches.

    Hanging out at one of our brunches.

    Prepare for fall Intermed and our first-ever student overnight retreat.  We’re asking God to use these events to refresh our current students, and, to enfold new students into our fellowships quickly.

  • Continue meeting with students.  While many students are away or busy with rotations, some have limited availability and we plan on taking advantage of that!  We’re also hosting 5 gatherings for the students over the summer as we study the Book of Malachi and the theme of spiritual refreshment.  This past Sunday, we concluded our study with ‘designer s’mores’ and great discussion on the patio late into the night!
  • Help our current leaders get ready for the new year.  Although we’ve already discussed vision and strategy for the first few weeks back, during the summer I will continue to touch base with our leaders so that we’re ready for this narrow, yet critical, window of opportunity.

As you can see, there’s plenty to do… and pray for.  Will you please join us in bringing these concerns before the Father over this next month?

Thank you for being a largely unseen, but so, so critical, part of our ministry.  We look forward to seeing you in July with another update!

With love,

Bryan & Sharon

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Winter Conference Report; Looking Forward

January 25, 2013
'Ice fishing'! (see the overhead projection screen)

Indoor ‘Ice fishing’! (see the overhead projection screen)

Worship Time

Worship Time

Thanks so much for your prayers for our Winter Conference.  Now that the conference is ‘in the books’, I wanted to provide a short report on all that God did.

More than anything, the conference provides space for our busy students and professionals to come away and be alone with Christ and each other.  As we can all attest, the craze of daily life often makes it hard to slow down and connect with God as we want to.  Through our speaker, times of worship, and plenty of space for quiet and community, our retreat is designed to be the perfect remedy for a busy life and heart.  For many, I really believe that the theme of ‘Reverse Course: Going Backward to Move Forward’ was realized.

The highlight for me – as always – is the undistracted space I have to connect with those who come.  In many ways, the weekend is like one long, wonderful conversation.  To give you a flavor, here are some quick highlights:

  • A conversation with a recent student (new professional) where we discussed a painful relational breakup he recently experienced.  I had the chance to offer understanding, as well as a challenge to not shut down his heart toward the Lord or future risks.
  • A brief interaction with a student from NY who would like to hold a ‘Doubt Night’ (skeptics and seekers express, and receive responses to, their doubts about Christianity) at her campus.  We’ve already followed-up via email, and I look forward to seeing what the Lord does through the event!
  • A conversation with a physician about her struggles to be a witness at work and beyond when members of her own family are not walking with Christ.  Mainly, I was able to be a listening ear and let her know I would pray.  In this case, I think that’s all she needed.
  • I organized a late-night ‘Denny’s run’ with about 20 from Philadelphia, something that’s becoming an annual Winter Conference tradition.  In this more laid-back setting, it’s wonderful to start seeing a new side of the students and connecting with them more personally.  We covered everything from ‘best summer ever’ to ‘what you learned from the speaker’.  I also had a great time with one of our key leaders at Penn during the car ride there and back.

Thank you for your prayers.  We are so thankful for what God did and trust that He will extend the value far beyond our weekend together.  Your prayers are such an important part of that.

With Christ’s love,

Bryan & Sharon

PS Please pray for:

  • God to help us live out what He taught us over the weekend.
  • God’s blessing on our men’s brunch this coming Saturday.  We’ll start looking at key men from the Bible in an attempt to better follow Christ.
  • Sharon & I as we provide relationship mentoring for a key student couple.  Also, for wisdom as we evaluate the need for a seminar on relationships.
  • God to add members to our ministry ‘council’ (group of folks who minister alongside me, and help provide direction for the ministry).
  • God to provide new student leaders as our existing leaders transition out (March-April), and, that He would give me wisdom in assisting them in this process.
  • God to create a deepening sense of dependency on Him, and as a result, a greater commitment to prayer among our healthcare community.  We tend to be self-reliant but want to keep growing in this area!
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Winter Conference Starts Tonight!

January 18, 2013
The view from my window as the first students arrive.

The view from my window as the first students arrive.

As I write this short update, I can see the first students start to arrive for our annual CMDA Northeast Winter Conference.  As always, this weekend is one of excitement and anticipation as 150 healthcare students and professionals gather together for teaching, fellowship, worship and refreshment.

I’ll provide a fuller update next week, but for now, please pray that God:

  • gives us hearts that are receptive and ready to meet with him;
  • helps me connect meaningfully with those who attend, and particularly with those from Philadelphia;
  • that God empowers Dr. Joseph Harvey as he speaks on “Reverse Course: Backing Up To Move Forward”.  Using Genesis 50 as his starting point, Dr. Harvey hopes to challenge students and professionals to step back from the intense world of medicine, remembering God and His promises, so that they can again move forward with passion.
  • that the work God accomplishes here would not stay here, but rather be transforming as we return home.  Pray that God would give me discernment as I seek to follow-up in the weeks ahead.

We expect that God already has big plans for our time here.  I can’t wait to share with you how it all unfolds!

 

 

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Ministry Seen & Unseen

April 26, 2012

This past month was another excellent month of ministry.  Here are a few of the highlights.

Engaging those on the journey

Not everyone I (Bryan) interact with on campus is a Christian.  Increasingly, God is giving me opportunities to talk to students still trying to figure Jesus out.  Recently, I’ve been meeting with one student who shared that, while he thinks that Christianity’s central message is true and sees much good in it, his faith is still “like a jigsaw puzzle with a few missing pieces.”  I told him that I will pray for God to bring clarity and encouraged him to join me.  Please pray with us!

Leadership transitions

With this year’s leaders starting to study for boards, we have now seen leadership transitions at all our area campuses.  I’ve been meeting with many of them to help them develop, and implement, a strategy specific to their campus and am always available as questions come up.  I also check in with our leaders to help them stay focused on the vision and maintain balance among their key priorities.

Ministering to couples, together

One of the greatest joys Sharon and I have in ministry is working together.  In addition to one couple we’ve already been meeting with for pre-engagement counseling, Sharon and I will be meeting with another medical student and her fiancé for pre-marital counseling.  Please pray that God gives us wisdom as we try to wisely “speak into” these relationships with God’s truth and grace.

Under the hood

If our ministry were a car, its body would be our ministry on campus.  It’s the essence of what we do and the part everyone sees.  And yet, like a car, its performance ultimately depends upon what lies “under the hood” – the engine, the transmission and other crucial, yet largely unseen, parts.  In our ministry, the engine and transmission are our council, campus laborers and supporters.  I’d like to lift up the hood for a moment and give you a quick peek inside.

Over the past few months, our ministry council, responsible for providing accountability and reaching our campuses with me, has lost two of its six members due to time constraints.  While these two members will continue serving on campus, they simply don’t have enough time to play a larger role in the ministry.  Please ask God to raise up additional members, and especially a chairperson.

Campus advisers are volunteer healthcare providers who are willing to share their lives with students as they journey through their training.  They provide encouragement, mentoring and a living example of what it looks like to walk with God in medicine.  Just this past week, I enjoyed an extended meeting with Jefferson’s campus adviser where we caught up on what we’re doing there, the leadership transition and how we can work together to see God’s work thrive there.  Quiet moments like these are vital to the campuses’ ongoing health.

Finally, our supporters are so crucial in providing the prayer and financial infrastructure that makes it all possible.  We received a major encouragement this past week when a significant donor committed to a sizable monthly gift, freeing me up to focus on the core work of our ministry.

Regardless of the particular role God has called you to play, if you’re receiving this update you are part of our team, a vital, if hidden, piece of what lies “under the hood”.  We want you to know that we see, and appreciate, all that you do on our behalf.

Warmly,

Bryan & Sharon

PS Beyond the requests in the update above, please pray for:

  • Summer gatherings, and times of discipleship, we’ll be having with those students who are staying around.
  • Details to come together for an overnight, fall retreat.  A great way to help new students get plugged into their campus groups up front!
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Winter Conference Recap

January 18, 2012

God gave us a great turnout!

Thanks so much for praying for our CMDA Winter Conference!  God really blessed our weekend.  In this update, I want to give you an inside look at the weekend through some “statistics”, pictures and snapshots of what God did.

Winter Conference By The Numbers

One of our group worship times.

Mere numbers can never capture the relationships they represent, but these quick “stats” may give you a unique perspective on my experience at the conference.

  • 160 students, healthcare providers and other attendees from Connecticut to southern Virginia
  • 53 hours from start to finish over 3 days and 2 nights
  • 3 hours of driving, 10 hours of sleep and 40 hours of conversations and logistics
  • conversations with 89 different people, many of which were in-depth
  • 30 new people met
  • 4 talks and times of worship with our students and healthcare providers
  • 2 car rides with our speaker and his family where we spoke at length
  • 1 phenomenal time of planning for a spring mini-retreat with other Philly students and physicians

Zooming In

Although Winter Conference takes place on a larger scale, in many ways it’s also about the many individual and small group interactions that God provides.  This is where some of the most intense ministry takes place, often unnoticed.  Here are snapshots of some of my favorite times at the conference.

The Penn students from this year's conference.

Throughout the weekend, I enjoyed sharing a room with three of the Penn guys.  After I agreed to help the Penn ladies pull a prank on them, I was discovered and wound up being pranked myself, with my reaction unwittingly captured on video!  These are the kind of rare opportunities to connect and have fun together that only happen at conferences like these.

Dr. Charlene Brock with some of the Drexel students

It was a joy watching two of our local council members, Drs. Charlene Brock and Jerry Hric, make it down for the conference.  Like everyone on our council, they have such a heart for investing in the students, and it’s exciting to invest in God’s work as a team.

God gave me lots of great conversations with students from Philly.  One shared about a new dating relationship he had just begun and ways in which God was helping him re-engage spiritually and relationally.  In between sessions, a leader asked if we could talk about the lower turnout from his school, and what we could do to strengthen involvement at his campus.  Another leader mentioned that her campus had significant involvement from first-year students, but that as of yet none seemed ready to lead for next year.  I was thankful for the chance to encourage these students and learn about important campus dynamics that I can follow-up on now that we’re back in the city.

During worship, Matt Redman’s “Never Once” became our theme song over the weekend.  Its words were, at the same time, our experience and prayer:

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us
 
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did you leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
 

Some of the guys & I at Denny's

As the song mentions, the conference was a sort of “mountaintop” for many of us, a vantage point from which we could see all that God has done, particularly as we look back on where we were just one year ago.

One student, “Mark”, was wrestling through what it meant to be a leader during last year’s conference.  God blessed us with an important conversation then that He used (in part) to help Mark take important new steps of faith and courage that transformed him and the ministry on his campus.  It was incredibly gratifying to watch Mark – without any prompting on my part – take initiative in advance of this year’s conference to gather the Philly area folks there for a spring ministry planning meeting.  Even better, his vision is to provide direction while enlisting others to step up so the conference can be self-sustaining from year-to-year.  While God gets the credit, I’m thankful to have played – and continue to play – a role in Mark’s development as a leader who is beginning to develop other leaders.  This is how the Kingdom multiplies!

There’s so much more I could share, but I hope this view from the ‘mountaintop’ gives you a taste for what God did.  Thank you for making weekends like this one possible through your faithful partnership with us.  To God be the glory!

Bryan & Sharon

PS – A special thanks to Jefferson student Sharon Li for permission to use her (fantastic) pictures!

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Beyond What We Can Ask Or Imagine

December 23, 2011

As the end of the year approaches, our family and partners in ministry are grateful for all that God has done in and through us this past year.  We’re already looking forward to another great year, beginning with the students’ return in early January and our CMDA Northeast Winter Conference, where students and professionals from the region will gather together for a weekend of encouragement and refreshment over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend.

For now, though, I want to encourage you that your prayers and gifts are making a tremendous difference.  As you know, throughout the semester we have been hosting 20-25 students from the area for an in-home bible study breakfast and study of Jesus, MD, a book by our CEO Dr. David Stevens.

At the end of that book, Dr. Stevens shares about how God worked in nearly-miraculous ways to provide a hydroelectric dam for the mission hospital (Tenwek) where Dr. Stevens served some time ago.  For many years, the dam had seemed like a pipe dream, entirely out of reach because of the exorbitant expense.  And yet, God “showed up” in unbelievable ways so that this need was finally met, allowing critical medical equipment to operate throughout the night, thus literally saving many lives.

In our study, this hydroelectric dam has become a tangible symbol for what the ‘impossible’ things God wants to do in and through the members of our group.  At the end of our final meeting for the semester, Sharon and I were humbled as the students presented us with a card of appreciation.  But it wasn’t just any card.  It was a pop-up card, made by one of the students, featuring a representation of the hydroelectric dam from Jesus, MD (pictured above)!  The gratifying part was not so much that we were thanked, but that the students are “getting” how great God is and what He wants to do in and through them.  This is why we’re in ministry!

We can’t wait to see what “hydroelectric dams” God may have in store for us in the coming year.  Be encouraged that God is at work, and join us in praying that He will meet and exceed our expectations, as He always does (Ephesians 3:20).

With prayers for a grace-filled Christmas and New Year,

Bryan & Sharon